A standup guy?

Jeremy Piven ap­pears in Is­rael with­out an en­tourage

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By AMY SPIRO

Jeremy Piven’s glory days are be­hind him. After be­ing ac­cused in 2017 and 2018 of sex­ual as­sault by eight dif­fer­ent women, Piven might never be cast in an­other Hol­ly­wood project. The show he was star­ring in at the time – CBS’s Wis­dom of the Crowd, a re­make of an Is­raeli drama – was can­celed after the al­le­ga­tions.

Last year, Piven em­barked on a ca­reer as a stand-up co­me­dian, in a bid to rein­vent him­self and con­tinue work­ing in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

For close to an hour on a stage in Jerusalem on Satur­day night, the ac­tor – most fa­mous for play­ing Ari Gold in En­tourage – relived his golden years in Hol­ly­wood, name-drop­ping celebri­ties and telling sto­ries from his time on film sets.

For a man who first be­gan per­form­ing stand-up in his 50s, Piven of­fered a sur­pris­ingly pol­ished, well-thought-out act. He de­liv­ered his show with en­ergy, self-dep­re­cat­ing hu­mor and a re­mark­ably ef­fec­tive set of celebrity im­pres­sions, and en­gaged with the crowd through­out the evening.

The au­di­ence at the Jerusalem show – his first out of four gigs in Is­rael – was en­am­ored with the per­for­mance, of­fer­ing laughs and ap­plause through­out, even when it wasn’t earned. But even Piven – ap­pear­ing on stage in jeans and a creased, dou­ble-breasted jacket – was aware that the medium-sized hall at the Jerusalem Theater was only about 60% full.

“Do you guys re­al­ize that The Rock is the high­est-paid ac­tor in the world?” Piven said. “He’s never taken an act­ing class. Do I sound bit­ter? Be­cause I am. Be­cause I’m here in Jerusalem in front of 11 peo­ple. I had more peo­ple at my bar mitz­vah than are in this room tonight.”

The ma­jor­ity of Piven’s act fea­tured sto­ries from his high­lights in Hol­ly­wood over a 30-year ca­reer, in­clud­ing im­pres­sions of Mike Tyson, Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stal­lone and Mark Wahlberg. He even mim­icked Owen Wil­son as the voice of Light­ning McQueen in the film Cars, which he noted is now an op­tion for nav­i­ga­tion on Waze.

Piven also made jokes about hav­ing an “Ashke­nazi hair­line,” to a smat­ter­ing of laugh­ter: “This is the only town I’ve ever been in that gets that joke,” he added, gar­ner­ing more hearty chuck­les.

Though he has said in the past that he wants to use stand-up in part to clear his name, Piven never di­rectly ref­er­enced the al­le­ga­tions against him dur­ing his set. He did ca­su­ally re­fer to him­self as a “de­gen­er­ate,” and told a story about blow­ing a film of­fer after in­sult­ing the head of the stu­dio at a party. “And that, ladies and gen­tle­man, is why I’m do­ing stand-up com­edy,” he joked, falsely.

Piven even waded into pol­i­tics, crack­ing a joke about how both he and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump have said “more fic­tion than fact,” be­fore not­ing that he is aware of Jerusalem’s pro-Trump sen­ti­ments.

“I know we’re di­vided,” he said. “He built an em­bassy here, ev­ery­thing else is shit. Just know that. That’s the only rea­son I like him.”

It was clear that Piven, 53, was ea­ger for the crowd to like him, to laugh at his jokes and ap­pre­ci­ate his Hol­ly­wood tales. It was also clear that his sto­ries of celebrity min­gling and time on film sets are just about all he has left of a once-promis­ing ca­reer.

(Mike Blake/Reuters)

JEREMY PIVEN

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